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Top Technology Trends Committee
Tool Kit for the Expert Web Searcher
Developed and maintained by Pat Ensor
Tired of endless lists of Web search tools that give you no guidance as to which ones to use? Or that were last updated when Gophers were alive? I'm inviting you to look over my shoulder and use what I use every day for Web searching in an academic library. I keep up with this stuff so you don't have to!
Subject guides involve human intervention in selecting and organizing resources, so they cover fewer resources but provide more focus and guidance for topics they cover. Use them to start searching for broad topics.
Open Directory Project Another human-edited subject resource with well-chosen and annotated sources. My first stop in any general search.
Librarians' Index to the Internet Organized and maintained by librarians, aimed at information of interest in public libraries.
WWW Virtual Library A sprawling network of information guides in a huge array of academic topics.
Internet Scout Project More oriented toward academia, covers resources in business and economics, social sciences, and science and engineering.
Academic Info Not as large as some of the other directories, but a laudable attempt to gather resources of interest in academic research.
BUBL LINK / 5:15 Catalogue of Selected Internet Resources Limited in scope -- tries "to guarantee at least 5 relevant resources for every subject included," but no more than 15 to 35 -- but a good place to go for "a few good resources on" an academic topic. Usable arrangement and good annotations.
Search engines produce their results from databases of Web page content, automatically created by computers. They are not all the same! They vary according to database size and content, searching capabilities, and how they rank results. Don't give up on a search until you've tried at least 2 to 3 search engines and/or metasearch engines.
Google One of the largest databases, excellent relevance ranking, "similar pages" and caching feature, also searches Open Directory categories.
Yahoo! Search Yahoo has put together its own search engine, and it now rivals Google in its size, relevance ranking and useful features.
Teoma Accesses moderate-sized database, but has some unique features to aid searchers and sometimes finds rare items. Advanced search includes very useful features, although not Boolean searching.
Since search engines aren't "real-time" indexes, your favorite search engine may provide inadequate coverage of the news. Here are some good tools that allow you to search a variety of news sources at one time.
Alta Vista - News Search thousands of current news sources. Allows Boolean searching.
RocketNews Searches a wide range of sources, has some advanced capabilities, and searches up to 5 days of material. Sorts materials by relevance, though, not by date.
NewsNow U.K.-based and very frequently updated. Has a search feature that should get you a lot on breaking news.
Google News Crawls over 4,500 news sources, with results produced entirely by computer algorithms. Indexes back 30 days. Only has basic Google search abilities.
Yahoo! News The added value of finding a topic in Yahoo's Full Coverage is that it provides news summaries, news multimedia, related Web sites, and message boards. Has a number of news searching options at the top of the page.
Why not just use a metasearch engine for every search? They aren't guaranteed to cover all the largest Web databases, they do unknown things with your search statement, and they frequently give you only a limited number of listings from each site. But the best of them are a quick, useful supplement to search engines.
Fazzle Defaults to a more focused, yet complete, set of Web search engines than other tools, allowing for higher relevance while drawing on many sources. Has preview feature. Formerly known as Search Online.
Clusty An easy-to-use variation on the Vivisimo metasearch engine, this metasearch engine makes good use of clustering technology to help you hone in on your topic.
ez2Find Searches the top search engines and directories (although you can't customize the selection), in addition to providing many specialized search categories. Results include various viewing options.
Ixquick A very good compilation metasearch tool -- translates your search syntax, doesn't run searches on engines that can't accept them, compiles search results and eliminates duplicates, assigns stars for number of appearances in top ten.
VivisimoSearches a selection of high-quality resources and presents results in a very useful way. Has a preview feature.
ProFusion.com Strength is in the careful choice of search sites and the metasearch subsets.
Even though it's the "World" Wide Web, many of the largest and best known search tools come from a United States perspective. Try some of these tools to get a more global view.
Search Engine Colossus Primary strength is the country-by-country listing of search tools, but also lists some tools with an international flavor in non-geographic categories. Extensive and well-maintained. Includes links to various language versions of the different tools.
Nations Online For each country, groups Web sites of government entities, search engines, and more. Very up-to-date, spotlights high-interest countries.
European Search Engines Focuses on Europe, often providing more resources in a country than others. Also includes handy links to national newspapers.
Ithaki Allows metasearching in at least 14 languages, with specially-created national metasearches of at least 15 countries.
Alta Vista Choose multimedia format from the top page. Allows some specification of formats.
Yahoo Search - Images Provides the same image database as Alta Vista, but has more searching capabilities and will continue to expand.
Google Image Search Claims to be most comprehensive image search on Web. Has some special image searching capabilities in "Advanced Image Search."
Singingfish Multimedia Search Outstanding! The best place to look for streaming media. Goes beyond music, allows specification of audio and video, software format, and length.
What about that other part of the Web you're not covering with search engines? A lot of it is covered by these resources. When searching the invisible Web, plan to locate the category of material you want, then browse. Don't be too specific in your searches.
FirstGov "The official Website for searching the U.S. government" pulls together a substantial part of the Invisible Web: federal government databases.
GPO Access Provides free online use of over 1500 Federal databases, going beyond what is available on FirstGov.
INFOMINE: Scholarly Internet Resource Collections Academically-oriented, covering lots of resources, with annotations and searching and browsing capabilities.
Digital Librarian: a Librarian's Choice of the Best of the Web Personal choices by a librarian of interesting sites in a number of categories. Doesn't try to cover something in all areas, and subject categories are non-traditional at times, but a lot of fun to browse and often provides a quick intro to searching in a particular area.
MagPortal.com Indexes and links to magazine articles available free on the Web. Currently includes over 120 magazines. Has a similarity feature; for many articles, click on an icon and come up with a list of similar articles. Much of what it covers is "visible" to search engines, but some of it's not, and it offers a way to focus on magazine-type material only.
Do you really want to keep up with Web searching developments? Below are the resources you need to use - frequently! I use them to keep up with what should be in my tool kit, and you'll see that reflected in this site.
ResearchBuzz! Check daily for Tara Calishain's running chronicle of resource discoveries on the Web that help in research, including search engine news. Or get the weekly newsletter.
Search Engine Guide: Search Engine News Check daily or sign up for daily newsletter. Culls a variety of sources for search-engine-related news, includes brief summary of each listing.
The ResourceShelf Gary Price created this Weblog, providing searching and invisible Web news daily. Invaluable; check often.
Search Engine Watch Search experts Danny Sullivan, chris Sherman, and Gary Price maintain this site; they provide daily search engine news and longer pieces every few weeks.
TVC Alert Genie Tyburski's The Virtual Chase is the home of this valuable daily newsletter. Focuses on legal research, but also generally useful.
Search Engine Showdown A project of librarian Greg Notess, this site is absolutely essential for comparing search engines. Includes a news feature.